Monday, October 10, 2011

An Interview with Barbara Lewis...

Barbara Lewis Interview

·     Andrew ThorntonHow did you get started in torch fired enameled jewelry? 

Barbara Lewis:  I took a workshop with Joe Spencer, creator of Multi-Torch Fired Enamel and things started to click.  I applied my ceramics education and knowledge gained from 20 years experience with firing gas kilns to adjustments in the flame. Who could imagine that white enamel would be my BFF! Simple torch adjustments create the most astoundingly beautiful results!

·      AT:  Why did you get started in torch fired enameled jewelry? 

BL:  While recovering from two rotator cuff surgeries as a result of loading heavy kiln shelves, I began the intimate task of making jewelry, first using my ceramic beads and then my enamel ones.  I took a lampworking class during this recovery period.  Enamel seemed a natural progression for an artist attracted to the flame!

·      AT:  How have your other interests/hobbies/career influenced your jewelry designs? 

BL:  I began sewing at the age of 12 and started college as an apparel design major.  My desire to make as many of the beads and components for my jewelry as possible stems from this original creative urge to make the dresses I visualized.  Now I integrate fabrics and fibers into my jewelry designs. I encourage jewelry artists to spread their wings and not be captive to what’s available at the store.

·      AT:  What inspires you? 

BL:  Because I love color, enamel is a natural fit.  It’s all about color!  In college I studied color theory and some would say that they are attracted to my work because of my use of color.  I have always enjoyed introducing the offbeat … a little bit of unexpected color that might make you say, “I would never have thought to use that!”

·      AT:  What makes your work unique from everyone else’s? 

BL:  I work spontaneously from the things around me. I get a thrill from incorporating seemingly disparate objects into a single piece of jewelry.  My “Bench Collection” necklaces are a snapshot of what’s on my worktable at any given moment.  I love this type of challenge.

·      AT:  Who’s work, glass or otherwise, do you most admire? 

BL:  I love the work of Mark Rothko and the Color Field painters.  Enamel artists I admire would include Deb Lozier, Jan Smith, and Jan Harrell.  I love their use of color and texture.

·      AT:  What advice would you give other artists? Stay true to your aesthetic. 

BL:  Your work will remain original and inspired.  Connections will be easy … things will feel right.  When you find yourself straying from your path, bring yourself back … you may need to limit visual stimuli until you get there.

·      AT:  Are there any other sources of inspiration you’d like to mention? 

 BL:  When I was just getting started on my degree in ceramics, I mentioned to one of my professors at the Corcoran School of Art that I questioned whether I had talent or not.  He said, “Talent is the need to create.”  I found his statement so freeing.  Later I came across this quote by Martha Graham, Founder of modern dance …


“There is a force, an energy, a quickness, that is translated through you into action.  If you block it, the world will not have it.  You do not have to believe in yourself or your work.  It is not your business to compare yourself with others.  It is your business to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you, to keep the channel open.”

   I invite you to join me at www.paintingwithfire.ning.com, where it’s all about torch firing.  It’s a great place to go with questions, to network, and get inspired.  We also have a weekly chat on Thursday evenings at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

website for supplies and jewelry: www.paintingwithfireartwear.com
blog: www.paintingwithfireartwear.blogspot.com

26 comments:

justthecook said...

thank you for this interview, Andrew...and for participating in the virtual book tour. I loved both Martha Gram's quote and Barbara's instructor's quote....

pupton said...

Andrew, I loved this interview with Barbara. I took her enameling class at Art and Soul in Hampton, VA. I loved it! I follow your blog! Love that too!

LindaK said...

I enjoyed the interview with Barbara. I also liked the quote from Martha Graham. I look forward to following you and learning more.

SummersStudio said...

This is a great interview and while I've known Barbara for a while through her blog and other places, I've learned so much about her inspiration. Love the Martha Gram quote. In fact I think I needed that quote today.

Alice said...

Andrew,

Thanks for the great interview with Barbara. It's always fun to find out how artists discover different mediums.

I love both of the quotes--good ones to remember for everyone.

CreationsbyKari said...

I can't wait to get this book and play some more with using a torch for enameling! I am a huge fan of Barbara's work- thanks for the great interview!

Cynthia said...

Thanks for this interview with Barbara. She truly is a creative force. (I am already a follower of your blog - BTW, congrats on the opening of Allegory Gallery)

Cinder says said...

What a great interview.

I have always loved that Martha Graham quote.

I am now following your blog. So great to find out about other artists work.

Millie @ ammjewelry said...

Great interview! I do love the quoate from her professor and plan to post it on my inspiration wall. Isn't it amazing that someone so innovative would doubt she had talent?! Blows my mind...
a follower of your blog (best wishes to you on your new shop!).

Courtney said...

She is so talented and supportive!

Rebecca said...

Thank you for the interview, wonderful quotes! I am now a follower of your blog.

Mo said...

What a great interview, and I love your whole creativity style. Great to meet a new artist and I've subscribed to your blog as well. Thanks. ~ Mo

Doris said...

While I enjoyed the entire interview, my absolute favorite is the quote from Barbara's professor, "Talent is the need to create."

Carlene said...

Great interview. And the quotes are perfect. Thanks for being in the tour :)

TesoriTrovati said...

Thank you so much for giving us a peek into the talent that is Barbara Lewis! I am fully snagged by her use of color and textures and patterns. I love the idea of the 'bench series' as that is completely how I create too! And that quote about talent is the need to create... pure genius! Enjoy the day!
Erin

Debora Mauser said...

I learned so much from this great interview! Thanks for sharing

Mary said...

What a great interview Andrew! Love to see the many sides of where Barbara gets her inspiration for her art.

moonlitfantaseas said...

love the interview with Barbara! I took her painting with fire class just a week or so ago, at Portland Art and Soul! And had a blast! I am a follower of your blog

Carole said...

Interesting interview. The whole enameling thing is fascinating. I am a follower of your blog.

Christine said...

Inspiring interview! I've tried kiln enameling & can't wait to try torch-fired enameling!

vdumas said...

Great Interview!

Shirley said...

Wonderful interview. So glad she mentioned the quotes. We can all use that kind of confidence motivator. I am a follower of your blog.

mairedodd said...

fabulous interview! i love how barbara mentions periods of limiting visual stimuli to recenter... i find that to be so necessary at times... and of course, the martha graham quote - love that... thanks andrew!

Shoshana from The Art Corner said...

Wonderful interview and I'm very inspired reading your blog. Thanks & May your Gallery bring you many years of Happiness:)

Gaea said...

Great to know a bit more about the talent and brains or Painting With FIre! Great quotes too!

KayzKreationz said...

I'm enjoying the interviews and the book tour. Looks like it would be fun to try.